Everyone thinks managing social media for a brand is easy, but it really isn’t. I think it can be made easier if you do a few things first. The ideas in this article were inspired from my presentation at Pubcon NOLA 2014, Social PR Therapy.
Choose the Right Team Members
The team needs to function as a true team. This means that each person should be the type that wants to back up and help other team members. They should be genuine about supporting one another. And everyone needs to agree on how everyone that reaches out will be treated.
A team that believes in & wants the same things = a strong team.
Set Guidelines for Yourself
Every company that really understands social media has guidelines in place for social media management, but I suggest you set some of your own guidelines as well. If you have expectations for yourself you will be better able to handle any situation.
- What professional standards would you abide by?
- What do you want the person to walk away with?
- How do you avoid causing harm?
- How would you want to be treated?
- How can you make people reaching out brand advocates? (responses and conversations can do this)
One of mine – avoid causing harm.
You never ever know what is going on in the life of the person speaking to you via social. They could be having the worst month or year ever. I personally do not want to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I want to possibly be the one interaction that didn’t suck in their day.
Tip – See everyone that speaks to you as an individual that deserves respect and kindness, no matter what they say to you or the brand you represent.
You Have to Put Yourself in Their Shoes
If you are going to manage any kind of social media account you have to be able to see every situation from every angle. What is right in front of you is not always a good perspective. Before you reply to a negative comment you have to try and put yourself in their shoes. What would you want to hear? Be helpful and understanding.
Do they have a right to be upset? If yes, you have to find a way to validate their feelings and find a way to help them.
What if they don’t have a real reason to be upset? You have to find a way to validate their feelings and find a way to help them.
No matter what the situation is you have to validate feelings and help the person reaching out to you. That is your job. If you allow yourself to see things from their perspective their anger might make sense to you. Then you can find a solution to help them.
Tip: Don’t take anything that is said personally. It isn’t about you it is about the brand they are reaching out to.
Protect the Brand
Your job is to be there for those reaching out to the brand on social, but protecting the brand you work for should be a very high priority. To protect a brand you really need to go beyond just looking at your feeds and really take the time to read conversations.
There are times that I will go read long conversations about Moz that are not attached to our Twitter feed. I try to determine if there is something we need to know about, something we need to work on and also make sure that I protect the brand if the things being said are incorrect.
To be good at social you need to know how to protect the brand and serve the people as well.
Have Plans in Place
Proper planning can make all the difference during the good times and the bad. If the brand has not anticipated potential issues that might arise then the social media manager should. Create some scenarios that could come up and create plans for the different situations.
Example 1, your website goes down (it happens).
- What steps does a social media manager take?
- Who to they contact within the company?
- What procedures need to be followed?
- What do they say to the community?
If plans are in place it takes a lot of pressure off of whoever is handling social media, and the entire company. Everyone knows what to do and how to handle it.
Example 2, someone openly attacks you on Twitter and others join in.
Situations like this can be intimidating and stressful and it could be handled really well or really badly! So you need to figure out:
- How should your team handle angry people?
- How should your team handle someone that is just mean and rude?
- Is it ever best to ignore a conversation?
- What notes need to be taken so the brand and the social team can reflect and learn?
- When does the social media manager reach out for help?
- Who do they contact?
If there are plans in place for difficult times the stress on the person handling social will be reduced because they know what to do. It is really hard handling tough situations and also having no idea what to do.
Learn and Define Your Audience
Every audience is different. They are comprised of many different personalities and demographics, but if they are a part of your community they have something in common. What is that? As you are working and communicating with your community? Get to know who they really are separately and as a whole.
I work as an associate on the community team at Moz and we have taken the time to really assess who our audience is, what differs based on location and what commonalities our diverse audience has. One thing is for certain, our audience tends to be on the cool, trendy, intelligent and geeky side of things.
By understanding the audience we know how to speak to the audience no matter what the situation is. In times of crisis we know what the audience expects. We recently had a DDoS attack at Moz and because the community team knows our audience well we knew what to say and how to say it. We knew what the audience expected, and we understood and validated their feelings.
Recommendation – Get to know your audience on a deeper level because it gives you great insights in how to help them, how to speak to them and what you need to do during the hard times to meet the needs of your community.